First Friday of every month
8 PM-11:30 PM + intermission
Our rotating hosts: Garrell Dewayne, Erika Roberts-Blackmon, Marcus Patrick Ellsworth, Steven W. Disbrow, Kevin Bartolomucci
Garrell Dewayne, participating artist, technician, host
TFIY… I always say, is a variety show of epic proportions. The opportunities afforded to me as an individual artist, as a host, as a lighting tech, to learn so much on the spot from artists, has just been invaluable to me, and to be able to watch the growth of some of the artists that I’ve seen from a year ago to now is monumental. For them to be able to say, “The Floor is the first time I say this song, and now I’m booking gigs at all the bars across town,” is what it’s all about about. I’m proud to be a Floorist in this garden.
Dana Owens, performer
I’m not from Chattanooga. I don’t live in Chattanooga (yet). However, I have many friends in Chattanooga.
A couple of summers ago, I was alone, lonely, and recently divorced. I’ve always loved Chattanooga and I’d go up on the weekends and just wander around downtown. I’d have some coffee, some tasty food, walk around Coolidge Park, and often times end up at JJ’s Bohemia before the night was over.
I took a chance once and gave a bartender my phone number. She actually called. We dated briefly before drifting back to our own paths. However, during that time, I was fortunate enough to meet MeLinda Brown and become Facebook friends.
Some months later, she posted about this Wide Open Floor thing. I was an amateur hobbyist musician and had always loved to sing, so I asked her about it. “Eight minutes to do whatever you want.” She said.
“Are there, like, a million people there playing the ukulele?” I asked.
“No, I don’t think so…” She laughed.
So I signed up.
I arrived and I was directed to “That fellow in the long coat there”. He was hugging a pretty lady in a black dress. I ended up sitting next to her. Meghan Greene promptly knocked over my beer and bought me another one. We’ve been friends ever since.
“Oh yeah, you are…” He looked at his phone. “…about halfway through the second half.” He said. He was warm and friendly and calmed my nerves a bit. I thought he had cool hair.
Marcus Ellsworth took the mic and opened the show with a flourish of poetry. Artist after artist took the floor, laying out everything they had to share. It was breathtaking. It was terrifying and breathtaking once I realized that I, with my little ukulele and likely shaking voice, would have to follow these amazing talents.
Late into the second half, he finally introduced me. I took the floor and looked out across the darkened faces of the audience. My nervousness evaporated. I only had a couple of covers to play, but I poured my heart into them.
They clapped! They cheered! It was the most alive I’d felt in a very long time.
After the show I met and talked to so many people, performers and spectators alike. I made so many friends that night. I couldn’t wait to come back again.
Since then, music has become a much bigger part of my life. I’ve even gotten paid to play a couple of times. If I’d never gone to Barking Legs Theater that night, none of it would have ever happened.
#WideOpenFloor helped me find my confidence again. It helped me believe in ME again.
Now it is gone and I miss it already.
But we’re all still here. So are our songs, poems, and our dances, our laughter and tears. Our friendships are still here.
Our art is still here.
In the end, #WideOpenFloor was just a name. It’ll always be a name that carries with it fond memories, though. What it represented was much more and bigger than any name of “intellectual property”.
And that isn’t going anywhere.
Steven Disbrow, participating artist, host
I’m not even sure what to say about this… TFIY is important for the artists of Chattanooga because it’s a place where anybody can try anything. When we say “the floor is yours,” we really mean it. We don’t censor, and for 8 minutes, that artist literally is in complete command of that space, and they’re able to do whatever wild, crazy, or meaningful thing that they want to do. That’s unique in Chattanooga and pretty much everywhere, that’s a unique thing.
Ed Ditto, audience member
To be totally and perfectly honest with you, the first time I went to the Barking Legs Theater for The Floor Is Yours, I heard Erika Roberts-Blackmon read some of her poetry, and I quickly realized I wasn’t culturally broad enough to appreciate many of the performances I was seeing. This is one thing that keeps me coming back: these shows bridge chasms that shouldn’t even exist.
Kevin Bartolomucci, participating artist, host
What I love about TFIY is I’m exposed to stuff that I would never, ever see. based on my age, my race, or my particular taste in entertainment. I see new stuff every show, and I love it, I love being exposed to new stuff. That is what keeps my juices flowing, is seeing new stuff, and it just blows me away… I’ve been doing these shows for 4 years and it’s just part of my month to come to this show, and I have yet to bored, I have yet to be disappointed… there’s something new every show, and that is awesome.